Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis

April 05, 2009

I recently prepared a specimen of a Dark-eyed junco. I love juncos, or "snowbirds" as they are still commonly known. I had a group of these little guys frequenting my feeder this winter, always gathered at the base of it foraging for the fallen seeds. They have a distinctive slate grey hood, upper body, wings and tail with a bright white chest and outer tail feathers.

Juncos are extremely common birds, with numbers around 630 million, and a range that covers northern Alaska down to northern parts of Mexico. Because of this broad range there is quite a bit of plumage and bill color variation from population to population depending on its geographic location. This has resulted in a somewhat confusing taxonomic history, with the currently named Dark-eyed junco being classified into 5 distinct species up until the 1970s. The current classification lumps the 5 into Junco hyemalis (Dark-eyed) but still acknowledges the 5 subspecies by retaining the scientific and vernacular name each from this older classification. Taxonomy is something I know little about, but am really fascinated by especially now with all the recent developments in genetics. A lot of reclassifying is happening and is going to happen for many species of bird and mammal.


  1. Wonderful! I've had lots of these little buggers around my feeder this winter. I love 'em. :)

  2. dark-eyed juncos are in my top 3 list of favorite birds! This is great, Diana!


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